Reviews by Andrew Schultz

IFComp 2015

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A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood, by Michael Thomét

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
"Come, sit here, click through a while and learn something of yourself.", September 2, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2015

The House at the End of Rosewood Street seemed to hit many of the right "how not to do things and get away with it" buttons for me. It had a dreamy mythic quality despite the realism. This offering by the author has its similarities and differences. It feels more like an experiment on the player than one with it. And it's probably been done in other contexts before. But it's thought-provoking enough. My main beef is that it provokes thoughts I've already thought about, not quite as exciting the second time through. Since it is shorter than THERS, though, it's more replayable and won't leave you hanging as long as to what it is, or what it does. (Also, you can look at the source code. I did.)

You are a vagabond, looking for passage to the city of Clarence. Along the way, you eat an apple, run into a caged pheasant, and eventually meet someone else who asks you to keep them company. It's not clear what the "best" way through is. Do you plant the apple? Do you release the pheasant? How much do you share with your new companion? And when the fellow traveler gives you your fortune, how do you cut the cards?

The looping that likely follows has you asking, did I do the right thing? What could I have done differently? And so forth. It leaves open the question of if there is a right way through. You have a few extra chances to ruminate.

The scenario is as surreal as THERS, but with significantly less guidance as to what to do. I ran through a few times until I got impatient, when I saw (Spoiler - click to show)my choices didn't matter except to have one section where you reflect on them say "But I did things differently" or "But I did them the same. So you can really only dream ever of reaching Clarence. It's something I think we've all thought of, and as a journey with tarot cards and the fellow traveler making vague proclamations, I realized I sort of heard what I wanted to hear on each trip through. Because, well, it was roughly the same.

It's not the first work I've played through that uses this gimmick, but it felt like there could have been more. Perhaps I should've suspected the thrust, given the tarot cards I always received. But I felt a bit ripped off even as I thought back to times when I realized I worried too much about what might or would have happened.

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